We Americans love our symbols. Sometimes we take it too far, as do Republicans when they pretend their childlike vision of the 1950s ever actually existed, and sometimes we don’t take it far enough, as when we talk about the ideals and values represented by our flag when really we mean the Constitution, and then fail to live up to them when it gets inconvenient. Politically we swing back and forth, symbolically like a pendulum in a clock, but also like a clock we manage somehow to continue to move in some symbolic forward direction like the time marked by the swinging pendulum.
Right now we are collectively experiencing an extreme moment of positive national symbolism wrapped up fairly completely in the person of the incoming president, Barack Hussein Obama. He embodies so many symbolic places because of his background that it is sometimes hard to keep track. He’s a black man by appearance though his father was African meaning his forebears never experienced slavery as did the forebears of most people in
And he hasn’t done a damn thing yet. It’s all symbolic.
The whole world remains impressed and hopeful with the
Very often we forget that it requires work to improve and that even figuring out what to improve isn’t so easy. Of course agreeing how to go about that process is even more difficult but that is the inherent messiness of a system that allows everyone to express and work to promote their opinions.
And this place is a mess right now because we are leaving a period where an important part of our society thought the symbols we strive to embody thought eternal vigilance wasn’t necessary. That it was just an article of faith. We know better now though. We were raised better than that. And we will be better for that as a result. The whole world is depending on us as WE THE PEOPLE to form a more perfect union. It’s time to turn the symbols into reality.